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Ecuadorian Protests in The New York Times Articles Essay

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Updated: Jul 6th, 2021

Introduction

The evaluation of the quality of data provided regarding political and economic issues in mass media is important in order to understand whether the presented information is biased or can influence the public’s opinion. The article by José María León Cabrera and Clifford Krauss, titled “Deal Struck in Ecuador to Cancel Austerity Package and End Protests,” was published in The New York Times on October 13, 2019.

The article is on the cessation of mass protests in Ecuador associated with President Lenín Moreno’s decision to reject the implementation of an economic austerity package. The problem of protests and mass unrest in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was also discussed in the articles by Joe Emersberger (for FAIR) and Michael Weissenstein and Gonzalo Solano (for NewsHour). The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the information presented in these three sources and conclude which articles present facts accurately with a focus on the quality of data in The New York Times.

Summary of the Article in The New York Times

On October 13, 2019, President Moreno reached the agreement with Indigenous leaders on stopping riots in Quito that had become the result of the President’s decision to follow Decree 883 by the International Monetary Fund. The associated details are discussed by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) in their article for The New York Times. The authors started by accentuating the celebration of the victory by activists of the 11-day protests, in which over 1,000 people were injured.

Protests associated with fires and street violence could cause further progress of political and economic instability in the country. Thus, President Moreno stated that he would change the decision to follow Decree 883 to receive a $4.2 billion loan for the state (Cabrera & Krauss, 2019). Thus, both parties, the administration, and Indigenous leaders would work together on stabilizing the situation in the country.

The problem was that, according to the International Monetary Fund’s conditions and program, it was necessary to remove Ecuador’s fuel subsidies that are important for Indigenous people in the country. According to Cabrera and Krauss (2019), the motivation of President Moreno was that the subsidies are costed about $1.3 billion per year. Still, the reaction of citizens was negative, and President Moreno’s decision became a trigger for organizing many violent demonstrations in Quito.

The abolition of subsidies was proposed as part of an austerity plan offered to Ecuador to guarantee a loan that was needed for improving the country’s economy (Cabrera & Krauss, 2019). The authors of the article note that the crisis in Ecuador led to significant increases in fuel prices that also made Indigenous protesters block the work of roads and oil stations.

The authors inform that the first attempts to solve the conflict were made on Saturday when President Moreno emphasized his decision to revise economic policies to respond to protests. However, Indigenous leaders pointed at the necessity of discussing the problem with the government under the supervision of the United Nations and the Catholic Church in Ecuador (Cabrera & Krauss, 2019). As a result of the discussion, President Moreno agreed to address protesters’ concerns. Cabrera and Krauss (2019) explain this change in the President’s position, referring to the role of Indigenous groups in the country’s political events as they greatly influence elections.

It is important to note that the authors also mentioned that many protesters were supporters of Rafael Correa, the former president of Ecuador. Furthermore, during riots, Indigenous groups were considered as serving the interests of Mr. Correa. The article was ended by describing the negative outcome of the protests for the Ecuadorean economy and the oil industry because of preventing many operations of oil companies. Since the oil industry is extremely important for Ecuador, President Moreno had to guarantee stable oil production by ceasing protests.

Evaluation of the Information Presented in The New York Times

To evaluate the information provided by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) in their article, it is necessary to assess it against opinions and critique presented by Emersberger (2019) and Weissenstein and Solano (2019) in their writing. In this section, the detailed evaluation of data presented by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) will be provided to conclude on their credibility and accuracy. It will be stated what source can be discussed as giving more reliable and valid information with reference to the assessment of such aspects as relevance, authority, and purpose in addition to credibility and accuracy.

The article published by FAIR can be regarded as a detailed critique of the papers by the Associated Press on the end of protests in Ecuador in terms of misrepresentation of the nature of this conflict. According to Emersberger (2019), Ecuador has no significant debt load that can be discussed as a reason for accepting strict conditions recommended by the International Monetary Fund to receive a loan. Supporting his position with some figures on the economic situation in Ecuador, the author notes that the measures taken by President Moreno regarding the elimination of fuel subsidies were unnecessary.

Throughout the whole article, the author was developing the idea that economics during the presidency of Mr. Correa was not as dramatic as it was represented by the supporters of President Moreno. Furthermore, the course of the current President could be discussed as even more radical in terms of ignoring the needs of Indigenous people and disadvantaged groups. Thus, the main argument developed by Emersberger (2019) in his article is that the plan initially promoted by President Moreno reflects the interests of only economic elites in Ecuador. As a result, only the risk of worsening the mass unrest in the country made the President change his decision.

It is important to compare information in The New York Times and on the FAIR website. In contrast to the article by Emersberger (2019), the facts presented in the paper by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) seem to be informative, but general. The reason is that the authors refer to official sources, present general data associated with the official political course of Ecuador, and avoid the critical and subjective analysis of facts. When focusing on the factor of evidence, the article by Emersberger (2019) includes more factual data retrieved by the author from the website of the International Monetary Fund and other credible sources.

In the article by Cabrera and Krauss (2019), actual figures were used to present the background of the problem instead of supporting the argument. Thus, quantitative data were utilized sporadically by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) to provide the context. On the contrary, Emersberger (2019) actively used figures and statistical data to support his opinion regarding the nature of the conflict. However, the problem is that the author of FAIR as a watchdog group did not present information objectively, imposing a certain opinion on the audience.

Thus, one more important difference in these two articles is the authors’ tone to present their position. In spite of the fact that Emersberger (2019) provides a lot of data to persuade the reader that the Associated Press tends to misrepresent the situation in Ecuador to support the interests of the elite, his article seems to be subjective. The tone of the article and the manner in presenting the facts about the activities of the governments of President Moreno and Mr. Correa allow for assuming that the author supports Mr. Correa’s course. As a result, the information given in the article cannot be perceived as based on evidence and unbiased.

On the contrary, Cabrera and Krauss (2019) chose the strategy of a rather objective description of the situation in Quito without making analytical conclusions. The only weakness is the presence of an unsupported assumption about the participation of Mr. Correa’s supporters in the conflict. The authors of the article in The New York Times tried to demonstrate their objectivity in the representation of facts, as they did not conceal the fact that President Moreno’s final decision was rather unexpected (Cabrera & Krauss, 2019). In addition, they were inclined to describe his economic course as having significant disadvantages.

If the author of the FAIR article promoted the idea the actions of President Moreno were worse than Mr. Correa’s activities, the authors of the paper in The New York Times described events without evaluation. For example, Cabrera and Krauss (2019) did not assess the activities of President Moreno and Mr. Correa using labels, they just listed facts in semi-formal language. Emersberger (2019) used rather expressive phrases in order to characterize his attitude to the course of President Moreno (“Moreno’s remarkable cynicism,” “wild allegations”), which does not contribute to regarding the paper as bias-free (paras. 10-11).

Although the author is a writer contributing to many online resources, his authority can be questioned because his purpose in this article is to provoke a certain emotional response from the reader. On the contrary, the purpose of an effective and credible article published in the media should be to inform the reader. From this perspective, the article from The New York Times is more reliable.

However, it is also important to discuss some weaknesses in the source from The New York Times. The descriptive character of the article by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) that adds to developing reliability in relation to the larger part of the article changed in the final part of the paper. The authors’ claims that “much of the protests are being engineered by former President Rafael Correa” seem not to be supported by facts, and the reader can doubt the objectivity of the presented information (para. 17). Thus, the two articles differ in addressing the issue and in their approaches to presenting facts, but they both, to some extent, lack dispassionate arguments.

The comparison of the article by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) with the writing by Weissenstein and Solano (2019) is also critically important for effective evaluation. It is necessary to identify possible differences and determine how the information in The New York Times is delivered to the reader in contrast to the other sources. The positions of the authors contributing to The New York Times and NewsHour are similar.

Thus, the strengths of the article by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) are in their description of the process of resolving the conflict by President Moreno with reference to details and facts related to the situation. The authors offered the relevant information and mentioned the reaction of the President to the conflict and the reaction of protesters to the reached agreement without imposing their opinion on the public.

The reason for eliminating fuel subsidies that were regarded as inappropriate by protesters was discussed along with the reaction of Mr. Moreno to violent conflicts in the capital. Thus, Cabrera and Krauss (2019) clarified the points connected with the economic crisis in the country and its debt. Furthermore, actual figures, as well as the reason for President Moreno to agree with the protestors’ conditions, were presented. Both groups of authors tried to professionally describe the political and economic situation in Ecuador without emphasizing their position that could potentially influence the reader’s attitude to the news.

Nevertheless, in spite of similarities in writing strategies by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) and Weissenstein and Solano (2019), there are still differences in their approach to informing the public about the crisis in Ecuador. These dissimilarities need to be discussed to assess the relevance of both articles.

Inaccurate or unreliable articles often provide biased information or mispresented information and facts to support authors’ views or the perspective of this or that political force. If the authors of the article in The New York Times avoided providing any analytical or critical comments on the situation, the authors of the Associated Press used an evaluative statement in their article. According to Weissenstein and Solano (2019), “the country is broke, and backing down to protesters would be a defeat for the president’s effort to undo the policies of his predecessor and former mentor, Rafael Correa” (para. 18).

This conclusion can mislead readers in their independent evaluation and analysis of the situation in Ecuador that is inappropriate for the high-quality source of mass media. In addition, comparing the articles from two sources, it is important to note that the paper on NewsHour can be considered as only partially relevant in spite of the quality of data presented in it. The reason is in the data of publication of the article.

The evaluation of the article published in The New York Times in comparison to the information provided on the FAIR and NewsHour websites allows for drawing conclusions regarding its quality and accuracy. On the one hand, watchdog journalism and watchdog groups are oriented toward guaranteeing the public has access to relevant, accurate, and unbiased data. On the other hand, the tone and style selected by Emersberger (2019) as the author of FAIR do not allow for speaking about informing the public without any bias.

Furthermore, the article by Weissenstein and Solano (2019) also includes some biased statements that can be misinterpreted by readers. The identified disagreements in informing the audience about the protests and their resolution in Quito accentuate the overall quality of the information given in The New York Times article.

High-quality informative sources need to address the criteria of currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. The criterion of purpose was discussed in previous paragraphs, and according to it, the article in The New York Times is completely informative, without provoking an emotional response. On the contrary, the article by Emersberger (2019) fails to be solely informative as the author includes his subjective opinion and tends to support a certain political actor. The article by Weissenstein and Solano (2019) is more appropriate as its tone mainly corresponds with the purpose of informing the public.

According to the criterion of currency (claims in the article need to be recent), the paper by Weissenstein and Solano (2019) is most inappropriate as the discussed situation changed, and the description of the events before reaching the agreement by President Moreno is not relevant. The article by Emersberger (2019) is the newest one, but it is presented as the analysis of papers published on October 14, 2019. Accordingly, articles by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) and Emersberger (2019) meet this criterion. Additionally, all articles address the criterion of relevance as they are related to the discussed topic.

The focus on authority allows for analyzing the source of the article and credibility in relation to its author. The article by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) is published in The New York Times, which can be discussed as a reputable and credible source of information. José María León Cabrera is a journalist from Ecuador, who is a member of the International Fact-Checking Network. Clifford Krauss is a regular correspondent of the newspaper who specializes in energy business topics. Thus, the authors are viewed as specialists in their fields who rely on facts when writing articles.

The article by Emersberger (2019) is published on FAIR that can be regarded as a well-known watchdog media group with a long history that adds some credibility to the source. Joe Emersberger is a Canadian contributor to mass media sources, he has Ecuadorian roots. The source is important to provide an alternative view on the problem of President Moreno’s policy in Ecuador. The article by Weissenstein and Solano (2019) is published on the NewsHour website that presents reports of news for PBS. Michael Weissenstein and Gonzalo Solano are Associated Press journalists that allow for comparing the quality of the provided information with Cabrera and Krauss’s (2019) one.

The accuracy of the articles by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) and Weissenstein and Solano (2019) is easily checked when comparing the information in these papers with other credible sources of data regarding the events. The article by Emersberger (2019) includes many figures and links to other sources, but there are questions regarding the accuracy of interpreting the provided data.

From this perspective, the information presented in the articles by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) and Weissenstein and Solano (2019) seems to be correct and true as the authors’ purpose was to inform the public about the course of events. In this context, the article published in The New York Times seems to provide more relevant information in comparison to the article by Weissenstein and Solano (2019) as the listed facts are more recent. That is why the article from The New York Times can be regarded as a high-quality source of information.

Conclusion

Following the evaluation of the article by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) presented in The New York Times, it is possible to state that this article is tailored to a wide group of readers. This audience is interested in receiving reliable and unbiased information on the event to be fully informed, but not influenced by the authors’ opinion. In modern journalism, the opinion of authors of articles can be emphasized in papers to stimulate a specific reaction and emotion in readers.

As a result, this position cannot be viewed as bias-free. Referring to the topic of the articles – the discussion of the protests in Ecuador and the resolution of the mass unrest with the help of the President’s agreement with Indigenous leaders, – the general list of events without their judgment is preferable. The reason is that the reader should draw his or her own conclusions regarding the studied issue.

The article from The New York Times effectively addresses the needs of the reader, who is expected to learn the latest news regarding the situation in Ecuador. Although most general information is presented in the paper, there are also factual data to support the statements, and the author often refers to the words of the main actors in the discussed situation. When comparing the article by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) with the article by Weissenstein and Solano (2019), the former article is more relevant in terms of the data of its publication despite the fact that the information provided on the NewsHour website is also credible.

The level of trustworthiness is high in relation to both these sources as Cabrera and Krauss are regular contributors to The New York Times, and Weissenstein and Solano are journalists of the Associated Press. Still, after evaluating the article by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) in contrast to the article by Weissenstein and Solano (2019), it is possible to choose the former article because of the authors’ tone and approach to presenting facts that seem to be more valid.

Although sources similar to articles on the FAIR website are important to be studied by the public interested in the political situation, international affairs, and economics, the critique selected for this evaluation is not appropriate. The reason is that the author uses a range of data and sources in order to support a specific point of view that can differ from the truth. Websites and other media that are known as watchdog groups serve to provide the audience with unprejudiced factual information that is not influenced by stakeholders and carefully checked.

The article by Emersberger (2019) can be perceived as an alternative opinion on the conflict in Ecuador supported by facts and evidence. Still, this information is not directly related to the topic of informing about the end of the mass unrest in Quito. In addition, the author tends to use pathos more actively than ethos and logos when conveying his ideas.

The conducted evaluation indicates that the article in The New York Times should be selected for the primary review of the facts associated with the situation in Ecuador. The information presented in this article seems to be more accurate and objective than the data provided on the FAIR and NewsHour websites. The main weakness of the article by Cabrera and Krauss (2019) is that it lacks enough mentioned supporting material to provide the background for the made statements. However, according to such criteria as accuracy, relevance, currency, authority, and purpose, this article can be assessed as a high-quality one.

References

Cabrera, J. M. L., & Krauss, C. (2019). . The New York Times. Web.

Emersberger, J. (2019). . FAIR.org. Web.

Weissenstein, M., & Solano, G. (2019). . PBS NewsHour. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Ecuadorian Protests in The New York Times Articles." July 6, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ecuadorian-protests-in-the-new-york-times-articles/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Ecuadorian Protests in The New York Times Articles'. 6 July.

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